George Orwell, in Why I Write, suggested that there are “four great motives for writing”:

  1. Sheer egoism
  2. Aesthetic enthusiasm
  3. Historical impulse
  4. Political purpose

Obviously there are many other more subtle reasons for wanting to write but on the whole I tend to agree. Obviously Georgie, as I like to call him (he hates it though), was talking about writing professionally and most certainly was not talking about blogging; which is understandable as he’d been dead for almost forty years before it had even been considered.

However I’m quite taken by his reasoning and I think it still holds true today, writing is still writing even if the publishing format has changed very VERY dramatically. So let’s see if we can apply the “Orwellian Writing Reasons” to blogging.

Sheer egoism
George says: Desire to seem clever, to be talked about… It is humbug to pretend that this is not a motive.

In modern parlance I think I can sum this deduction up by saying “well, duh!”. Whether your blog is a diary of each day, covers a specific topic, or is just where you dump the rubbish that accumulates in your brain, there is always an aspect of “putting things out there” which satisfies the ego to a degree.

It may be as simple as thinking you have something to say that others will want to read, or you may think that you are a good writer and DESERVE to be read, the fact that you publish what you write and allow public access says more about YOU than your readers.

Add in the boost you receive when comments are left by other people (they love me, they really really love me!) and the ego massage is almost complete.

I say: I write and post because I think about a lot of different things. Sometimes getting feedback is the main aim, sometimes I’m hoping that someone will enjoy what I write, sometimes it’s just verbal diarrhea.

Aesthetic enthusiasm
George says: Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement.

Writing to enjoy the joys of writing then. Hmmm bit of a tough one this, and whilst it does apply to some, I don’t think this can be levelled at the masses.

However, dig a bit deeper and you realise that it still holds true. Even if you are just writing about something menial or trivial you are still taking a little time to construct sentences and paragraphs, and no doubt you are leaning on your own preferred phrases or pet words and, as such, the majority of bloggers will find that they are still writing under their own aesthetic considerations.

I say: This is something I’ve touched on recently, and I think it evolves the longer you continue to blog. I am taking more and more time to consider what I write, how it is phrased and how it will be read.

Historical impulse
George says: Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

Is this the truest definition of a blog? This statement can be applied to all kinds of blogs, and on so many different levels. Whether you are focussing on your own personal life, providing movie reviews, monitoring political party activity aren’t we all trying to capture what we see, understand it better and remember it for the future?

Granted the latter may not be foremost in people’s minds at present but, even as an exercise in personal growth, being able to look back to what you were, publically, thinking about three or four years ago is surely a wonderful side effect of blogging.

I say: I was surprised to find that this reason for writing is the one that struck home. When asked “why do you blog?” I frequently find myself floundering for answers, referring to why I started doesn’t really help as it’s certainly not why I continue to do so today. Maybe I can best define it as wanting a record of my personal growth, but then that sounds trite and conceited. I think I’ll go with George on this one.

Political Purpose
George says: Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people’s idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.

When I first read this I skimmed through it but on a second (and third) read a level of clarity has been reached and I think that this too is a hugely common factor for bloggers. That rant about the people who travel on your bus? Part of it contains a desire to communicate what you see as a failing and so effect some level of change on the consciousness of society.

Your viewpoint will, and does, carry through into your writing. It may not be an extreme view but it is unique to yourself, and does hold messages of desire for change no matter how small and how succinctly they are expressed.

I say: I think there are occasions when i’ve consciously had a political agenda when I post. Granted the message may be distilled through a rant about education standards or such like but it is still a small attempt on my part to get people to THINK about the society they choose to live in.

In (part) conclusion
I’m still not really finished with this, but I’d rather put it out there and garner some feedback. I think there are a couple of other reasons that are specifically applicable to blogging and to our current culture; namely the feeling that you don’t have a voice despite the increased number of communication channels available which is closely related to being aware that it is increasingly easy to speak up and be heard, again through the increased number of communication channels. A very modern dichotomy.

The Blog Cycle whilst not directly related to the writing of blogs, is nevertheless an excellent article about the progression of blogs.